“I try to remain stubborn in my gladness.”
“You write because you have an idea in your mind that feels so genuine, so important, so true. And yet, by the time this idea passes through the different filters of your mind, and into your hand, and onto the page or computer screen—it becomes distorted, and it’s been diminished. The writing you end up with is an approximation, if you’re lucky, of whatever it was you really wanted to say.
Great art reaches through the fog, towards this secret heart—and it shows it to you, holds it before you. It’s a revelatory, incredibly moving experience when this happens. You feel understood. You feel heard. That’s why we come to art—we feel less alone. We are less alone. You see, through art, that others have felt the way you have—and you feel better.”
We imagine that we see one another on a crowded street, Chinatown, New York City, near an ATM where a man presses buttons slowly and hopelessly. We think one of us is carrying a box, maybe it is cardboard, maybe it is white, maybe it is large, with sharp edges that cut into our flesh.
In high school, we did not know what to do with empty Saturday nights. They dragged on, bloated with television and the noises of parents. We were crabby and nervous and we fell asleep at nine pm, or we stayed up until sunrise, eating the last of the cereal and the freezer burned ice cream and the leftover spaghetti.
These are the years when we get a stomachache before every important event, when we compete with one another over how much we don’t sleep, when we hide in the library instead of going to the cafeteria and sitting alone. When we memorize the class schedule of a person whose name we replace with the name of an animal, so we can talk about them in public without anyone knowing. We keep journals and we write every day in them, sometimes in marker. We are unstoppable geniuses. We are sad little girls.
When we think we see each other on the street in New York City, it is ten and a handful of years later. We do not smile at strangers, and we do not smile at people we know. We are meaner now, and we are also better. Not but. And.
“But confusingly, misogynists are sometimes men who speak softly and eat vegan and say “a woman’s sexual freedom is an essential component to her liberation. So come here.” It’s a tricky world out there. And while I’d prefer a critical approach to gender from men I elect, read and even bed, in my experience, the so-called feminist men I’ve met deep down have not been less antagonistic or bigoted toward women. What I see over and over again is misogyny in sheep’s clothing, and at this point, I would rather see wolves as wolves.”
At Trader Joe’s, I pile things into a basket and then I unpile them and put them back on their shelves. TI pay too much at a café to drink an iced coffee and sit at a long, dreamy farm table near two boys doing calculus. One of the boys is slumping into his sweatshirt sleeve, miserable, or bored, or maybe both.
In high school, I put brown paper bag covers on all my math books after freshmen year, even when we weren’t required to, so my friends, or strangers, wouldn’t be able to tell what kind of math I was taking (the lowest level kind). It’s funny now, that I actually thought they’d care. There is nothing quite like high school girl shame.